The First Artichoke

With a vegetable garden if you neglect it, even for just 10 days, you can end up with a big task on your hands to clean it up and get it back into the shape it was before. And with the weather we have been experiencing lately those few days away from the garden is enough for weeds to really catch hold.

Following Bloom I was greeted with just this, a vegetable patch that was starting to be taken over by weeds and a few bolted crops. This was the first task to be tackled in the garden once I had the time to get out with a pair of gloves and a hoe.

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When it comes to weeding I find this the easiest way to deal with them. Brute force, while it may take longer, does allow you an opportunity to inspect plants and ensure you are not taking up seedlings which are only emerging. While I did not hold much hope for the vegetable patch when I first saw it after some work tidying it up it was easy to see all the positives. The strawberries and pineberries have established well this year and have a respectable crop of fruit slowly starting to form. The same goes for the raspberries and morello cherry tree which if birds don’t get to them first I should be able to harvest my first cherries later this year.

The best highlight was discovering the first artichoke in the garden. Artichokes are something I have wanted to grow for some time and started the journey last year when I bought a young plant from a garden centre. Having finally establishing and producing its first head it was a very welcome sight to see.

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Artichokes are a close relation to thistles and have a very similar flower if you do not harvest the artichoke head. The flowers are very attractive in my eyes and the plant does make a great ornamental plant in a garden if you are not interested in it for food. The flowers are great at attracting bees which is another bonus of leaving one or two heads to go to flower.

To grow successful artichokes need light free draining soil and a good amount of sun. When planting in spring it is good to work some well-rotted manure or compost into the soil to give the plant a good start. During the year, just like the rest of plants in the garden, artichokes will benefit from a liquid tomato or seaweed feed.

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When it comes to cooking artichokes many people are unsure how best to do it. One of the easiest ways is to boil it in salted water or steam it for 20-30 minutes. It is important if you are intending to eat artichokes that you harvest them at the correct time. You want them to be large but do not wait too long as it will become touch and coarse just before it flowers.

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